My mom called. My first thought was, "Grandpa died." My second thought was, "She needs money." I was wrong, grandpa is still alive, although barely holding on, eating only yoghurt and coughing out his cancerous lungs. But I was right, she needs money. My heart sank, because right now I don't have any. I have filed for bankruptcy and spent the last of it on attorney fees. Whatever I have made at RadCon needs to stay there for my Amtrak trip, because March will probably be the first month that my boyfriend will be supporting me, as I have no more ghostwriting income at the moment. All this sped through my head as I told her that I have no means to help her right now.
She was devastated. I told her that she needs to stop taking care of her parents who have been abusing her her entire life and let her sister (my aunt) deal with them. I told her she needs to take care of her own health first, before she can take care of others. I told her all those helpful in my mind things that weren't helpful to her at all. From her point of view I am so much better off, I can find some way to help. From her point of view I have made it, compared to what she has to put up with. I got a lot of stick from her and my dad (especially), but she got it so much worse from her parents, and of course what I have seems like paradise from the distance.
I made myself stop giving her advice and simply listened. I always listen when she calls because there is no room in her world for my troubles. There is too much pain she has to deal with, and I can't possibly imagine what that's like, so I can only help by listening. But damn it, it's so fucking hard. I want to fall apart and tell her about my shit. And I can't. But she knows this. Deep down under this weight of her hard life, she knows. She actually asked me for the first time in months about how my books are doing. I was so surprised, at first I didn't comprehend what she asked.
I said, "They're doing good...better." She was happy to hear it. I said, "I will see if I can squeeze out some cash for you soon." She thanked me. Then my son came into the room and we had to stop talking because it was dinner time. I hung up the phone.
And then I felt like a total asshole.
I couldn't stomach eating dinner after we talked. "How can I eat food," I thought, "when she can't afford meat?" Then I thought, "But I can't help someone when I'm not fully standing on my own feet yet. Does this make me an asshole?" Then I thought, "Considering the amount of people dying in the world every day from hunger, should I stop eating completely? Does the fact that I can afford food make me an asshole?" Then I stopped and thought, "I'm not an asshole. I can't make everyone happy. I can't make my mom happy. It's her responsibility, not mine. All I can do is help her along the way as much as I can and strike out this guilt that is flooding me."
"I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S HAPPINESS."
I shouted in my head.
"I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN HAPPINESS."
I kept shouting.
I'm doing with my life what I want to do with it, and I won't let anyone take it away from me, because who the fuck knows how much I have left. I want to write, and I am writing. My tax accountant said that I should be getting a tax return, so there is my possible money for a couple more months of living expenses.
I must explain something. I'm giving you all of my unsightly financial truths to not make you feel pity or to slobber all over you my self-indulgent tears and cry, "Oh, poor me! Look at me!" No. I want to show you how it's not going to stop me, and in this act of showing reassure myself. Yes, I have no clue where my next money will be coming from. Yes, I am making book sales, but not enough yet to fully support myself with just my books. Note the word "yet". I will make enough with my writing, I know, it's only a matter of time.
I'm also writing all of this out to rid my system of these emotions before the new writing day tomorrow. This—this blog post—is my therapy. I'm no longer afraid of anything life might throw my way. Go ahead, life, I'm ready. Whatever shit you shovel in my direction, I will shovel right back out on paper. And I'll be happy again, laughing in your face. So bring it on, why don't you. And we shall see who has the last laugh.
Thank you for reading this far, if you're still here. I love you. You're amazing for taking precious time out of your life and peeling your eyes at my words. For this I'm forever grateful. Here is to more writing tomorrow.
P.S.: In the picture above I'm 2 years and 7 months old, and my mom is 21. One of the few pictures I have where we are both smiling.